Defeating Oak Ridge High softball is one thing, pinning the loss on its ace Kasey Stanchek is quite another as visiting Ponderosa found out March 29.
Taking advantage of two first-inning runs without the benefit of a hit and behind Stanchek on the mound, the Trojans dealt Ponderosa its first loss — winning the Delta River League match up 3-0.
Stanchek allowed five hits and stranded six Bruins in the final three innings. The Trojans’ victory avenged an earlier loss to Ponderosa in the championship game of the Victory Tournament two weeks ago. In that one, Stanchek pitched four shutout innings of one-hit ball before retiring and the Bruins rallied against her replacement.
“Ideally we’d like to have Kasey throw every inning but in reality we can’t,” Oak Ridge coach Marc Bentovoja said about his staff ace who’s working her way back from a summer injury. “Kasey threw well today but Ponderosa did some adjustments and made us catch the ball. We know every time we play the Bruins that they’ll put the ball in play and make us play defense.”
While the Trojan defense behind Stanchek was stellar, including Stephanie Brenneman’s running catch of Olivia Lucatuorto’s fourth-inning drive deep to right field, Ponderosa’s ‘D’ wasn’t as Troy leadoff Lauren Bertoy hit the third pitch she saw right at a Bruin but right through the wickets. Two hit batters, one on Jenessa Jeppesen that went for an RBI, an indecisive fielder’s choice and Jade Matsumoto’s sacrifice fly plated two big runs for the hosts.
“I think our emotions were running too high, nerves and the fact the Oak Ridge-Ponderosa rivalry in any sport is huge,” Ponderosa coach Dwayne Brekke said in explaining the Bruins’ first turn on defense. “But our biggest problem today was that we couldn’t get a two-out hit.”
After Natalie Kessing singled sharply off Stanchek to open the game, the Trojan right-hander set down the next 11 before Bruin pitcher Katie Pieplow singled with one out in the fifth inning. Haley Lobaugh also walked for a two-on, two out scenario; in the six Kessing singled and Lucatuorto walked; and in the seventh Missy Silveira doubled and Lobaugh singled before Stanchek got the next two to preserve her shutout.
“I didn’t pitch my best today but I tried to come out strong,” Stanchek said. “Ponderosa is a great team, they got hits so you have to give them credit.”
Pieplow also allowed five hits. Oak Ridge added a run in the fourth as Matsumoto ((2-for-2) singled and scored on Renee Bardini’s two-out double. Kessing had two hits for the Bruins and was up with two outs in the seventh when Stanchek ran a pitch in on Kessing’s hands and the Ponderosa junior fisted it back to the mound to end the game.
“I knew she (Stanchek) was coming inside and I got jammed,” Kessing said. “The first inning was rough but if you throw it out we played pretty well.”